How to Love Your Enemies a Little Bit at a Time
Make room for more love in your life by cutting down on hate
“Many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” — Matthew 24:10–13
Hate is a strong emotion. Most of us know people we dislike, but that feeling doesn't evolve into hatred unless the person wrongs us in some way or we perceive them to be a threat. This kind of hate has a logical aspect, while hate based purely on prejudice does not.
Frequently, fear drives hate. We hate those we believe want to take something from us or negatively impact our lives. Their differences in appearance, speech, religion, and customs can be unsettling and confusing. Confusion leads to misunderstandings. Hate flourishes when communication breaks down, and people turn away from each other.
Throughout the ages, great thinkers have warned us that hate unchecked is dangerous for everyone involved.
“Fear of something is at the root of hate for others, and hate within will eventually destroy the hater.” — George Washington Carver
“In hatred as in love, we grow like the thing we brood upon. What we loathe, we graft into our very soul.”— Mary Renault
How can we learn to love our enemies?
One of the first things we can do to eliminate hate from our lives is to identify qualities and interests that we share with our adversaries. First and foremost, there is our basic humanity.
We all want to be adequately clothed, housed, fed, and protected. Parents (with some exceptions) are preoccupied with the well-being of their children. When a natural disaster strikes, people tend to put their differences aside in the interest of working together to survive. The worst of times can bring out the best in people.
When we focus on what we have in common rather than our differences, we have a much better chance of getting along with other people. When we work together instead of against each other, there's little we can't accomplish.